cleveland can grow alongside robust fiber optic network, says panel


"Think big" was the theme of an Amplify Speaker Series luncheon on making the most of Northeast Ohio's steadily developing information technology presence.

The region must continue to expand its fiber optic infrastructure alongside ongoing efforts to transform Cleveland into a bustling tech hub with worldwide reach, said a foursome of panelists during the October 1 event sponsored by Contempo Communications.

The physical network itself is burgeoning, notes Lev Gonnick of OneCommunity, a nonprofit foundation helping to grow high-speed internet in Northeast Ohio. Since its founding in 2003, the organization has laid 111 miles of fiber in Cuyahoga County alone.

An advanced fiber optic/digital base transporting data at high speeds can be a boon for the area's already robust healthcare sector, says Kevin Goodman, managing director/partner of downtown Cleveland cloud-computing provider BlueBridge Networks. Crystal clear doctor-to-patient conferencing is just one example of how robust telecommunications can aid the industry.

If a healthy digital platform can help build industry and bring jobs, it will give Northeast Ohio an advantage in the hunt for young professionals over similarly sized markets, says Ashley Basile Oeken, executive director of Engage! Cleveland, a talent attraction/retention nonprofit.

"We're falling behind cities like Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in bringing in talent,"  Basile Oeken says. "Cleveland has to find ways to stand out."

Dan Young, founder of technology and design agency DXY, is looking beyond county, state and even national borders when it comes to connecting with the next wave of innovators. Young helped establish a DXY satellite office in Germany, an experience that showcased the need for Cleveland to attract immigrant brainpower.

"The city has to be bigger and bolder about the conversation it's having," he says.

Creating a regional tech epicenter here would make drawing dynamic folks of disparate backgrounds all the easier, says Joy Roller, panel facilitator and executive director of Global Cleveland.

"We need to be open to the flow of ideas and new people," she says. 

Douglas J. Guth
Douglas J. Guth

About the Author: Douglas J. Guth

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to being senior contributing editor at FreshWater, his work has been published by Crain’s Cleveland Business, Ideastream, and Middle Market Growth. At FreshWater, he contributes regularly to the news and features departments, as well as works on regular sponsored series features.